Our home was built in 2000 and we purchased it in 2012.  And most everything in the house was builder grade when we moved in.  Including all of our cabinets...builder grade oak.

Back then, Pinterest was really starting to hit its stride and I had seen lots of dark kitchen cabinets that were gel stained.  I was intrigued because their claims of little sanding/prep-work, little cost, and a relatively quick turnaround time.  Being a penny-pinching newlywed, I gave it a shot.  First with our half bath vanity, because I figured it would be the cheapest one to replace if it went wrong.

To prep my cabinets, I gave them a quick sanding - think 1-2 minutes per door.  You're really just trying to get rid of the shine. Then I wiped down each door to remove any sawdust and let them dry.

Using a foam brush, I applied the first coat.  This stuff is the consistency of pudding, and it's really easy to work with.  Unlike traditional stain, you do not wipe this off.

 I let this coat dry for about 8 hours before I went for coat #2.

We decided to go with a 3rd coat to make a very consistent java color, and then waited about 24 hours before drilling to add our hardware.  This template set was very helpful.

After all our holes were drilled, I touched up the stain with a small brush, let it dry for about an hour and then applied three coats of the polyacrylic to everything, allowing about 3 hours between each coat.

We loved the results so much, we decided to stain all the other vanities, and the kitchen cabinets over the next few months.  And we eventually updated our banisters as well.



So what's the verdict, now that's it's been 7 years since we completed these projects?  Well, we love them!  Every once in awhile, we'll get small dings from dishes and kids and well...life.  So about once a year, I'll touch up with the leftover stain and poly that I have, and they're good as new.  They clean easily with water or a gentle cleaner, using a microfiber cloth, and we are really glad we went this route.

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